Created: 11/02/2013 2:35 AM WHEC.com
(AP) LOS ANGELES - Although the Spurs and the Lakers hadn’t played a game without Tim Duncan or Kobe Bryant on the court in 17 years, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili haven’t gone anywhere.
And even without Duncan, San Antonio is still doing the same boring stuff with the same stellar results.
Parker had 24 points and six assists, Kawhi Leonard added 15 points and 11 rebounds, and the Spurs survived without Duncan for a 91-85 victory over Los Angeles on Friday night.
Duncan sat out after bruising his chest in Wednesday’s season-opening victory over Memphis, but Spurs coach Gregg Popovich promised his defending Western Conference champions would do the "same boring stuff" even without their franchise cornerstone since 1997.
That’s exactly what the Spurs did, recovering from an early 15-point deficit and executing well in the final minutes while the new-look Lakers faltered against the club that swept them out of the first round of last spring’s playoffs.
"We had a rough start, but in the second half we played a lot better," said Parker, who went 12 for 18 and made just one turnover in nearly 36 minutes of play. "Every road win is sweet, so we’ll take it."
Parker hit the tiebreaking jumper with 2:13 to play, and Ginobili capped his 20-point performance off the bench with a key defensive play and a dunk in the final seconds of the Spurs’ road opener. Boris Diaw hit a key 3-pointer with 1:40 to play and scored 14 points while starting in Duncan’s place.
"We only know how to play one way, and that’s what we do," Popovich said. "We didn’t do anything different. We just ran what we always run, whether (Duncan) is there or not. If Tony was out or Manu was out, we run our same stuff."
Pau Gasol had 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who finished their season-opening string of three games in four days with two losses after their season-opening win over the Clippers.
After San Antonio erased their early deficit, the teams traded 14 lead changes in a tense fourth quarter. Parker put the Spurs ahead to stay, and Tiago Splitter made an impressive tip-in with 1:10 left to cap a 9-1 Spurs run.
"There was a lot better execution on their part," Gasol said. "They made a couple of big shots, and we didn’t counter. Diaw played very well down the stretch."
Kobe Bryant sat out for the Lakers, and is still weeks away from a return after tearing his Achilles tendon in April. The Lakers and Spurs played the first game between the perennial Western Conference powers without either Duncan or Bryant on the court since November 1996, when Bryant was a rookie and Duncan was at Wake Forest.
Jodie Meeks scored 14 points and Wes Johnson added 12 for the Lakers. Steve Nash had five points on 1-for-8 shooting and five assists in his return after sitting out Wednesday’s game at Golden State in a bid to rest the 39-year-old point guard during back-to-backs.
"It’s frustrating, because this was a winnable game," Nash said.
Los Angeles trimmed the Spurs’ lead to 87-83 in the final minute, and Diaw missed two free throws. But Ginobili stripped the ball from Meeks on the way to the basket and then dunked on the other end with 11 seconds left to seal it.
"We let this one get away from us," Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. "I thought this was one we could have got, especially without Duncan. It was set up for us. We didn’t do it. You need to start defending your turf, then learn how to win on the road."
The Spurs started slowly without Duncan, missing 10 of their first 12 shots and falling behind 33-18 early in the second quarter. Parker got San Antonio rolling with a 15-2 run, erasing most of that lead in 3 1/2 minutes.
Ginobili’s 3-pointer put the Spurs ahead with the first basket of the second half, but the Lakers kept it close before the back-and-forth final quarter, which featured 10 lead changes in the first 6 minutes alone.
"I think we know each other, but we definitely need a little more time," said Jordan Farmar, who had seven points. "We’re out there competing, trying to get it done. We didn’t do much in the fourth quarter this time around, and it’s tough. It’s a work in progress. It’s a long season, and there’s going to be growing pains until we find our groove."
NOTES: The Spurs aren’t sure when Duncan will be back. San Antonio has two more games on its trip, including Saturday night in Portland. ... Xavier Henry had three points for Los Angeles on 0-for-6 shooting. He also got a 2-inch cut on his forehead in the second quarter when Johnson accidentally kicked him. Henry hit two free throws before heading to the locker room for nine stitches. He returned for the second half. ... Olivia Wilde, Jason Sudeikis, Andy Garcia, Jamaal Wilkes and Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer attended the game.